Venture Lab

Venture Lab is an investment initiative that drives financial inclusion globally. We invest capital in and provide support to innovative fintech start-ups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale.

We are particularly interested in technology and business model innovation as well as new approaches that help underserved people and small businesses benefit from the world’s formal economy. We look for models leveraging new technologies (e.g., blockchain and distributed ledger, digital ID and full stack infrastructure), newly digitized forms of data (e.g., social media, digital transaction footprints) and new analytical tools (e.g., machine learning). We also look for innovative customer engagement models that create meaningful and delightful user experiences. We are excited about new approaches that focus on financial health and building  financial capabilities.

Since early-stage startups traditionally lack access to capital and assistance, Venture Lab provides flexible financial and non-financial support to adress the needs of our portfolio, including:

  • Investment: We will typically invest U.S. $300,000 to $500,000 in equity or quasi-equity instruments as part of the first institutional round of capital for seed-stage startups. We welcome opportunities to co-invest with like-minded investors and often build syndicates to channel capital into promising opportunities. We continue to support companies as they grow through follow-on capital that drives scale.

  • Support: Venture Lab is an active and engaged investor, providing investees with strategic and operational support across a broad range of business areas. We do this through governance, often in the form of a board role, as well as through our portfolio engagement function, which consists of an in-house team that works closely with portfolio companies in the areas of growth strategy, customer insights, product and pricing, process and operations, and human capital. In addition to day-to-day support from the Venture Lab team, investee companies may get connected to Accion’s technical experts (technology, risk management, etc.), microfinance teams and customers from partner institutions around the world, and the global banking and investing community.

 

Featured Work

Bridging the Small Business Credit Gap Through Innovative Lending

This report by Accion Venture Lab describes the latest innovations in the field of micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) finance. In it, Venture Lab explores how innovative, tech-enabled lenders are using niche marketing, digital or mobile platforms, and enterprising partnerships – and often a combination of all three – to make financing available to underserved MSMEs. Informed by its investments and work with more than a dozen fintech start-ups in the MSME finance space, Venture Lab charts a course for investors, regulators, microfinance institutions, and entrepreneurs to seize today’s opportunity to close the gap.

Venture Lab developed this report with the support of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

Read more about the report


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